Warning: Spoiler Alert
In Storybrooke’s Sheriff station, Emma and Elsa continue to search through town records looking for signs of The Snow Queen. Elsa isn’t happy with their progress, but Emma insists that this is their best option. Will Scarlett is still being held in the tank, for “as long as [Emma] says so.” Hook shows up to drop off more records, and the two scoundrels share a scoundrel-like conversation. Shortly after Hook leaves, Elsa comes across a file of photographs. They’re the photos that Regina had Sidney Glass take when Emma first arrived in Storybrooke. Kind of an abuse of power on Regina’s part, but it turns out they’re useful for more than just nostalgia. Elsa finds a picture of Emma very obviously arguing with The Snow Queen. Emma, troubled that she cannot remember the conversation, takes Elsa to see Regina in her vault. If she can’t remember the conversation, maybe Regina knows something.
Emma asks Elsa to come in to speak to Regina, but Elsa declines. She wants Emma to reconcile with Regina. Emma isn’t hopeful that she’ll be able to do that. Ruefully, she tells Elsa that once you’ve screwed someone over as badly as she screwed Regina by bringing Marian back, it’s hard to be friends again. Elsa encourages Emma to speak to Regina alone, so that the two can try to talk.
In the vault, Emma approaches Regina, who is waiting for Sidney to return in the magic mirror to tell her of The Snow Queen’s whereabouts. Regina, your redemption efforts are admirable but keeping Sidney Glass as your Magic Mirror isn’t going to win you many bonus points with Henry or the citizens of Storybrooke, no matter how many boyfriend’s wives you unfreeze. She knows this, of course, which is why she denies knowing anything about Sidney when Emma confronts her about the pictures she found. Regina denies any knowledge of the photographs (which you may mistrust, but if Regina knew that there was a connection between The Snow Queen she surely would have exploited it by now since Regina wants to force her to unfreeze Marian.) Emma tries to reach out to Regina, but Regina sends her away. “You’ve never had my back,” she spits, “and you never will.”
Emma leaves, and Sidney reappears in the mirror. He’s found The Snow Queen’s lair, but he wants Regina to release him from the mirror before he tells her. Regina threatens to release him from the mirror and throw him in the hospital again, and he recants his leverage over her. Regina, I know you’re going through a really tough time right now but the man has already taken a murder rap for you, twice. Maybe just play it cool this time?
Outside the vault, Elsa waits for Emma to return. It has grown dark outside and, fairytale people, you should know better by now! Don’t let strangers with missing relatives hang out in a misty graveyard after dark! Of course Elsa hears Anna’s voice crying for her help, and of course she takes off after her. Emma returns to find Elsa missing and chases after her. (Remember when David made the “here’s to not having to look for a while” joke? Doesn’t seem like you’re getting that wish, dude.)
Elsa chases Anna through the woods, across a gorge and a stream (thank goodness for ice magic that will let you build staircases willy-nilly), and eventually catches up with her. Her sister doesn’t seem to be that happy to see her. Probably because it’s not really Anna, but an apparition generated by The Snow Queen to lure Elsa into the middle of the woods and trap her in chains of ice that grow stronger as she panics. The Snow Queen regards Elsa with the patronizing pity of someone who knows way more than the person they’re speaking to. She needs Elsa out-of-the-way at the moment, and she knows that
chaining her with her own terror will be perfect to hold her at bay. She’s going to build a snowman! (Remember the snow monster Elsa generated with her powers earlier this season? You know, the one who got stronger when it felt threatened? Seems like this kind of magic has a pattern…)
Regina’s in the woods as well, taking directions from Sidney-Glass-in-a-compact to get to The Snow Queen. She doesn’t make it far before she runs into Emma, who is of course looking for Elsa. (The fact that their paths intersect here shouldn’t go unnoticed, either.) Regina reveals that she’s looking for The Snow Queen, and Emma insists that the two stick together. Regina isn’t pleased, but she’s even angrier that Emma will insist on coming with her anyway.
As the two walk through the forest (using the directions Sidney gave Regina before Emma appeared and Sidney got snapped shut and thrown in the pocket of Regina’s super-sharp blazer), Emma tries to make small talk with Regina, but Regina is having none of it. She doesn’t care if Emma thinks that her work to unfreeze Marian is admirable. She doesn’t want to be girlfriends and braid each other’s hair and give each other makeovers. There’s no hiding her fury at Emma for bringing Marian back. Regina suggests that Emma just learn to live with the fact that she’s ruined her life, just like Regina lives with the lives she’s ruined.
They reach the bridge that Elsa made to follow Anna, which is curiously close to where Sidney has said that The Snow Queen’s lair will be. As they’re climbing, the wind begins to howl. The two pause and seek cover. Emma denies that the magic at work is Elsa’s, and Regina realizes that Sidney has betrayed her. Even though she told Emma earlier that she has no idea where he is, she pulls out her compact to scream at him in outrage. He reveals that he has lured the two into The Snow Queen’s trap, and a present in store for Regina that he feels that she richly deserves.
The two make it through the wind-attack and subsequent bridge collapse, only to find The Snow Queen’s “snowman” at the top of the hill. Regina throws a fireball. Emma follows up with a burst of light magic (what are we calling it? It kind of looks like Jubilee’s powers from X-Men, yes?) and the ice warrior stumbles backward, but he quickly regenerates and attacks again. The two sorceresses continue to assault their foe with individual blasts of magic, but they’re not making as much progress as they could.
They have to cross the streams.
The combination is enough to turn the Ice Boss into a puddle, but the two barely have time to catch their breath before The Snow Queen herself ambushes them, choking them with her magic and stealing the compact that Regina is holding Sidney in. Elsa was being held in her chains not far away, which she managed to break by Not! Being! Afraid! (hey, it’s a fairytale, it’s allowed to be that easy sometimes), and blasts The Snow Queen to release Emma and Regina. The Snow Queen is surprisingly happy to see Elsa was able to break free and completely disinterested in anything the three women are going to do from then on, since all she showed interest in was Regina’s compact. With an irritatingly smug blast of snow, she vanishes.
And, it’s funny. Just the other night I was complaining to a friend that the show is sort of “beating the Frozen drum a little hard”, and that I missed the “our world” storylines that the first two seasons had.
Are the writers of OUAT bugging my life? This week, we didn’t flash back to The Enchanted Forest, but to a runaway-from-foster-care Emma shoplifting some pop tarts. A sly looking, dark-haired teenage girl comes to her rescue when Emma is confronted by a security guard. With a quick smile and a quicker lie, her new friend hustles her away from the guard and to the checkout line, where she pays with a stolen credit card. Emma’s astonished and a little in awe of her new friend’s (who introduces herself as Lilly)guile and quick-thinking, even as the two run from someone in a Jeep who chases them from the parking lot.
Once the two get far enough away, they unpack their groceries and picnic in the grass across from some very nice-looking lake houses. Emma explains her background—foster kid who ran away because she knew she’d never be adopted. She asks Lilly if she’s been in the system as well, and Lilly explains that she might as well be invisible where she lives and so she decided to leave. She reveals her plan to break into one of the lake houses and stay there, since they’re not currently being used. She invites Emma to come with her, and she gleefully accepts.
But all the girlie laughter, video game playing, bonding over Lilly’s star-shaped birthmark, and promising to be friends forever can’t help the girls when the house’s broken into late one night. Well, I say broken into, but really it’s Lilly’s father, who has tracked her down. Her mother, he explains, far too overcome by heartbreak to travel
Emma is stricken by this news—she thought that Lilly didn’t have a family. She’s outraged and betrayed by Lilly’s re-arrangement of the truth. Lilly’s father calls the police and Emma’s taken back into foster care. Lilly begs Emma to take her contact information so that they can remain friends, but Emma refuses.
And now we know why Emma is certain that Regina is never going to forgive her—because she never forgave Lilly.
Tonight’s secondary-Storybrooke plot wasn’t magic-intense, either. David is trying to convince Mary Margaret to leave baby Neal for an hour and go on a walk with him. She’s incredibly apprehensive, and after everything that happened after Emma was born, it’s hard to blame her. David is dutiful and reassuring, but insists on getting her out of the house.
The two go to the sheriff station because Mary Margaret insists on having a long-range radio in case the cellular service goes out. They retrieve the radio, but then David realizes that Will Scarlett isn’t hanging out in the drunk tank anymore. But isn’t it a perfect opportunity for Snow White and Prince Charming to go on an adventure together? Seeking out the escaped ne’er-do-well and returning him to justice! And there isn’t an Evil Queen or an impish curse chasing them! It’s hard to resist your True Love’s sense of adventure. Mary Margaret agrees to give chase.
As night falls, the Charmings’ hunt has not yielded quarry. Mary Margaret insists that she go back to Neal and that David continue his search. They part ways, but Mary Margaret soon spies a man frantically digging along the shoreline on her way home.
Of course it’s Will Scarlett. Mary Margaret marvels at how easily she’s found the escapee, but after few more answers from an obviously inebriated and not-cunning Scarlett, she realizes that there’s no way that this drunk idiot escaped on his own. David must have let him out so that the two could chase him! Date Night in Storybrooke, folks. Mary Margaret demands that Will admit the plan, and offers to use her powers as mayor to pardon him if he does. Hard to say no to that, isn’t it?
Later, Mary Margaret back at home, holding Neal on her bad and relishing her brief adventure. David comes in, relieved that she looks happy. She beams at him and thanks him for his ruse to make her feel better. She admits that parenthood has been different and more difficult than she imagined, and that it was nice to feel like herself again. David laughs. It seems that he wasn’t responsible for Scarlett’s release, and that Mary Margaret gave him a pardon for, well, nothing. But, since he was really only locked up for getting drunk and passing out in the library, he’s not to be considered a dangerous criminal anyway. Let’s hope letting one get away doesn’t turn out to haunt anyone, okay?
Well, don’t worry about the bad guys who get away, at any rate. Maybe stick around and try to hang on to your friends. Emma again pursues Regina to her vault, insisting that she wants things to work out. After all this time, she realizes she should have forgiven Lilly. She doesn’t want Regina to make the same mistake. The women have a son in common and moreover, Regina understands what it’s like to feel alone, rejected, unloved, and lost in a way that her parents and even Henry never can. Maybe they can have a beautiful friendship, after all.
The Snow Queen isn’t worried about making new friends, however. In her lair, she releases Glass, who stands ready to do her bidding. It seems that he’s made a mistake, falling for an evil queen again. She doesn’t want him, she explains. She wanted the compact that Regina housed him in. There was enough dark magic within it for her to use it for her wicked intentions. She dismisses Glass and grins wickedly at the compact. She shatters the surface of the mirror, then uses a shard to repair a broken mirror she just happens to have lying around. The mirror, she explains to her dazed-and-evil reflection, will help her get everything she wants—a family who loves her.
We leave tonight’s installment with a bit of CaptainSwan. Hook meets Emma at her office, where she is going through her small box of childhood belongings. She smiles at some of the artifacts of her childhood; I burst into tears when she pulls out a picture of herself and Neal (Henry’s dad, not her brother), and it just so happens that she also finds the video camera that she used to tape some of Lilly’s and her antics at the lake house. She plugs it in, eager to see her old friend’s face.
The tape continues after the girls fade away. Hook and Emma watch as a pudgy, irritating ginger kid appears onscreen, obnoxiously shouting about “what the new kid brought.” Emma is in the background, struggling to get the camera back. Offscreen, we hear what we assume is the foster-mother of the house tell the ginger to drop the camera. She sounds irritated, barges into the room, and wrenches the camera away from the kid. As she turns it off, it catches her face perfectly.
Of course it’s The Snow Queen. Of course it is.
This show sure knows how to leave you hanging, doesn’t it?
The Story Continues Next Sunday at 8:00 pm on ABC.